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November 9, 2010 - No. 190

Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall Used to Criminalize Conscience

Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall Used to Criminalize Conscience
First They Fake Berlin - Dougal MacDonald
Romanians Say Communism Was Better than Capitalism - James Cross, 21st Century Socialism

Second Annual International Conference on Combatting Anti-Semitism
Playing the "Nazi Card" to Criminalize Dissent

Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall Used to Criminalize Conscience

November 9, 1989 is celebrated by world reaction as the date that the Berlin Wall "fell." Each year, the most reactionary elements in society use this anniversary as an occasion to create massive ideological confusion about the real significance of the historical events of 1989-91 in Eastern Europe. Over and over it is proclaimed that these events marked the "victory of capitalism" and the "end of communism." It is as if announcing such distortions often enough can make them come true. A dogmatic rendering of both capitalism and communism distorts the significance of unfolding events and what can be done to resolve the crises in which the world is mired in a manner which favours the peoples. The goal of this anti-communist offensive was then and is now to get the working people to end their fight for a society which provides their rights with a guarantee. The peoples are to be so disinformed by governments and state agencies and the monopoly owned media that they are to be reduced to the status of abject slaves.

As it stands, the more corrupt the financial oligarchies are proven to be, the more oligopolies impose their dictate on the workers as if they are their "possessions." The more slavish governments in the service of the financial oligarchs and oligopolies show themselves to be, the more people are supposed to submit to their dictate. And all of this dictate is carried out in the name of democracy, liberty, human rights and freedom of markets. In the name of these high ideals, straightforward fascist politics are being pushed.

On this anniversary, in Ottawa, an international conference has been convoked in the name of opposing anti-semitism, claiming anti-semitism is only against Jews, not Arabs, and that to criticize Israel and Zionism is anti-semitic and thus a hate crime. There is a lot of evidence to conclude that the aim of the main promoters of this conference is to criminalize the conscience of all those who oppose the terrorist practices of the state of Israel or oppose Zionism. In the name of defending what are called democratic institutions and national security, laws are being changed to equate the national interest with the values of the big powers and force the peoples to submit to these values.

In Canada and around the world, the workers and peoples are opposing the shifting of the burden of the pay the rich schemes onto their backs and the criminalization of dissent. They are opposing the striving of the U.S. superpower for world domination as well as the contention of the other big powers with the U.S. for that same domination.

This week in Seoul, south Korea, massive demonstrations are taking place against the G20, even as the criminalization of the activists who opposed the meeting of the G20 in Toronto continues and the peoples everywhere continue to fight for their right to defend themselves and fight for societies over which they exercise control.

The more the dangers increase, the more these struggles must be put on a sound organizational footing so that the peoples are able to avert the dangers which lie ahead if matters are left in the hands of the forces which represent alien class and national interests.

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First They Fake Berlin

The November 9 anniversary of the "fall of the Berlin Wall" is always an occasion for those in the imperialist camp such as the Harper government to step forward and spout their anti-communist lies and slanders. But the past is the objective occurrence of events and there is only one past. For example, on February 2, 1943, the Soviet Union defeated Nazi Germany at the Battle of Stalingrad, which was the turning point of the Second World War. That is the past; it happened and nothing can change that. But besides the actual past, there is historical falsification of the past by certain human beings. Churchill, speaking for the Anglo-American imperialists, said: "History will be kind to us because we will write it."

The liberation of Berlin by the Soviet Red Army in May 1945.

Berlin has long been the focus of post-war historical falsifications. Just as the fall of the wall in 1989 and the "reuniting of Germany" in 1990 supposedly marked the "end of communism," the so-called Berlin Blockade and Berlin Airlift of 1948-49 supposedly marked the Soviet Union's initiation of the Cold War. But in March 1946, Winston Churchill had already started the Cold War by attacking the Soviet Union in his warmongering "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri: "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe." Churchill was echoing his mentor, Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, who had stated a year earlier: "If the German people lay down their weapons, the Soviets, according to the agreement between Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin would occupy all of East and Southeast Europe along with the greater part of the Reich. An iron curtain would fall over this enormous territory controlled by the Soviet Union, behind which nations would be slaughtered" (Article titled "Das Jahr 2000" in the newspaper Das Reich, February 25, 1945, pp. 1-2).

What then are the facts about the 1948-49 "Berlin Blockade" and "Berlin Airlift"? At the end of the Second World War, by the 1945 Potsdam Agreement, the four allies divided defeated Germany into four zones: Soviet, American, British and French. The city of Berlin was located in the Soviet Zone but all four countries' military governments were represented in its administration. A main provision agreed upon at Potsdam for the setting up of a new post-war German democratic state was economic unity among all zones. From the beginning, the U.S. imperialists pursued a policy of splitting rather than unifying Germany and of trying to isolate the Soviet Union, first merging the U.S. and British Zones into Bizonia and then into Trizonia by including the French Zone.

In 1948, the U.S. and the other Western Powers announced their intention to form a separate West Germany, which was created in May 1949. "East Germany" did not yet exist. The Soviet Union called for renewed four-power talks to resolve the issue, but the Western Powers ignored the call and instituted a separate Western currency reform, even though the Potsdam Agreement called for economic unity, which required unified currency. The goal of the Western introduction of the new Deutschemark currency into Berlin was to try to destabilize not only the economy of part of Berlin but also of the whole Soviet Zone of which Berlin was a part. It was warfare on the economic front. To prevent economic disruption of the people's lives, the Soviet Union instituted restrictions on traffic to and from Berlin, which the Western Powers labelled a "blockade."

The Western Powers responded to the justifiable restrictions by initiating the "Berlin Airlift" of food on June 24, 1948, after falsely alleging that the people of Berlin were starving and were "victims of a famine." For purposes of anti-Soviet propaganda, the completely unnecessary airlift delivered food to the supposedly blockaded people in the non-Soviet zones of Berlin until May 12, 1949. To show its good faith, the Soviet Union immediately offered to supply enough food for the entire Berlin population (rather than just the Soviet zone), which it began doing daily in July 1948. Meanwhile, the Western powers continued to pour out a stream of false allegations such as that the Soviets refused to negotiate, that the Soviets planned to overthrow the Berlin municipal government, that the Soviets wanted a new world war, and so on.

In August 1948, in Moscow, the four powers finally agreed on lifting the travel restrictions and introducing a uniform currency in Berlin but the U.S. imperialists quickly broke the agreement and stayed their course because such changes would interfere with their plans to partition Germany and create a separate West German state. The imperialists wanted to form an aggressive military bloc directed against the Soviet Union and the people's democracies and divert attention from questions of peace and disarmament. A divided Germany was the plan of the U.S. imperialists from the start, a policy that they later also carried out in Korea and Viet Nam. What happened in the past reveals that all the modern-day imperialist hosannas about Germany finally being reunified are complete rubbish because it was the imperialists who deliberately divided Germany in the first place.

The history of Berlin shows how historical falsification "works" by repeatedly presenting lies about the objective past and by suppressing -- including by force -- the presentation of the truth. Hitler once said, "Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it." Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels was a master of the big lie technique. The Nazis constantly backed up their lies with force; Hitler's lie that Poland had attacked Germany was followed by the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, resulting in the deaths of more than 3 million Polish people. The U.S. imperialists learned well from Hitler and the Nazis, and for decades a major weapon against the working class and people of the world has been the imperialists' repetition of historical falsifications, backed up by force.

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Romanians Say Communism Was
Better than Capitalism

According to a recent poll conducted in Romania, a large majority of those who expressed an opinion stated that life was better when the Communist Party was in power than it is now under capitalism. Most people gave a favourable view about communism in principle, with over 60% saying that communism is 'a good idea.' The pollsters noted a significant increase in sympathy with communist ideas since a similar poll was carried out four years ago.

Conducted in August and September this year by the Romanian polling organisation CSOP, the survey found that over 49% of respondents agreed that life was better under the late Communist leader Nicolae Ceauşescu, while only 23% think that life is better today. The remainder gave a neutral or 'don't know' answer.

The reasons given by the participants for their positive evaluation of the communist period were mainly economic, with the availability of jobs cited by 62% and decent living conditions by 26%; the provision of housing for all was referred to by 19%.

The survey was sponsored by the government-funded organisation IICMER (the Institute for Investigating the Crimes of Communism and the Memory of Romanian Exile), in order to help guide the instutute in its work to 'educate' the population about the evils of communism. Among the most bitter disappointments for that organisation were the answers given to a question which asked whether the particpants or their families had suffered under the communist system.

A mere 7% of respondents said they had suffered under communism, with a further 6% asserting that although they personally had not suffered, a family member had suffered. Again, the reasons given were mainly economic, with most of the small group who had direct or family experience of suffering under Communist Party rule citing the shortages which occurred in the 1980s when Romania implemented an austerity programme in order to repay the country's foreign debt. A small fraction of the minority who had suffered during the communist period said they had lost out by having their property nationalised, and a handful (6% of those who had experience of suffering under communism) recalled that they, or a family member, had been arrested at some time while the communists were in power.

Putting their best spin on the outcome of the survey, the IICMER noted that pluralities of those polled (41% and 42% respectively) agreed with the statements that the communist regime was criminal or illegitimate. A substantial minority (37% and 31%) explicitly disagreed with those propositions and the rest were neutral or gave no opinion.

Also, although most participants gave a positive view about communism, with only 27% expressing disagreement with communism in principle, most of those who gave a definite opinion were of the view that communist ideas had not been put into practice in the best way before the regime change in 1989. 14% gave the unequivocal response that communism was both a good idea and was well implemented in Romania.

Thus a large proportion of Romanians who are undecided on the question of whether or not communism was a legal or legitimate form of government, and a big majority of those who say that communism was incorrectly conducted, are nevertheless clear in their view that the system as practiced under the Romanian Communist Party --  warts and all -- provided a better life for the people than that which is provided under present day capitalism.

Communist Achievements

Before the communists took power in Romania, most people were illiterate and had no access to health care. Few in the countryside, where the majority lived, had sanitation or electricity. Infant mortality rates were among the worst in Europe, and most people died from hunger or disease before reaching the age of 40. Romania had a right wing regime which allied itself with Hitler during World War Two, and as part of that alliance Romania's capitalist administration sent most of the country's Jewish population to the Nazi death camps.

Achieving power following the Soviet victory against Nazi Germany in 1945, the Romanian communists -- who had hitherto been an illegal underground group fighting the pro-fascist government and the Nazis -- numbered only a few thousand. However, they succeeded in mobilising the enthusiasm of the people to rebuild their war-shattered country. Illiteracy was almost wiped out, health services were massively improved and extended, and -- as the participants in the CSOP survey point out -- jobs, homes and decent living standards became available for everybody.

Buoyed by these successes, the Romanian communist government led by Nicolae Ceauşescu went into debt during the 1970s, buying expensive industrial equipment from the West in order to increase the country's economic growth rate on the expectation that Western countries would increase their imports from Romania. That strategy failed, and the austerity programme that was implemented in order to pay off the national debt gave rise to increasing resentment.

Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife Elena were executed by firing squad on Christmas day 1989. Their death sentence was carried out after a brief trial by the new reformist leaders of the country, in which they were found guilty of crimes against the Romanian people.

But despite that condemnation, and although the general view as reflected in the CSOP survey results is that the communist system as practiced in Romania was flawed, only a small minority of those consulted in the poll (15%) said that former communist chief Nicolae Ceauşescu was a bad leader. Most respondents were neutral or undecided on this question, and 25% said that Ceauşescu's leadership was good for the country.

In its analysis of the poll results, IICMER noted that Romanians are far from alone in their generally positive evaluation of 20th Century communism. According to a survey carried out in several Central and East European countries in 2009 by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center, the proportion of people in former socialist nations who take the view that life under capitalism is worse than it was during the period of communist power is as follows:

Poland: 35%
Czech Republic: 39%
Slovakia: 42%
Lithuania: 42%
Russia: 45%
Bulgaria: 62%
Ukraine: 62%
Hungary: 72%

Particulary significant in the results of the 2010 CSOP / IICMER poll in Romania is that, as they aquire more experience of life under the 'market economy' people are becoming more negative about capitalism and positive about communism. In the previous poll in 2006, 53% expressed a favourable opinion about communism; the 2010 survey showed that 61% are favourable towards communism.

The CSOP's survey findings are not altogether surprising in view of what has taken place since capitalism was reintroduced -- increased poverty, the rise of unemployment and insecurity. Romania's health system is currently in crisis, and public sector workers have recently had their pay cut by 25%.

Information on the poll: 1133 people aged 15 and over were interviewed between August 27 and September 2, 2010. Interviews were conducted based on a standardized questionnaire, face to face at home. Margin of error: 2.9%.

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Second Annual International Conference on Combatting Anti- Semitism

Playing the "Nazi Card" to Criminalize Dissent

From November 7-9 in Ottawa, the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combatting Antisemitism (ICCA) is holding its second annual Conference on Combatting Anti-Semitism, hosted by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA) and the Government of Canada. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney both appeared and addressed the conference proceedings in their official capacity as representatives of the Government of Canada. A press release from Citizenship and Immigration Canada reported that representatives from 45 countries were participating.

The ICCA and the CPCCA are part of a scheme in service of Anglo-American imperialism which attempts to criminalize conscience by spuriously equating opposition to the racist ideology of Zionism with anti-Jewish activity, or what is termed anti-semitism. The ICCA came into being in February 2009, comprised primarily of so-called western nations. It gives itself the following mandate:

1. To promote awareness and understanding of the nature and threat of anti-semitism;

2. To establish a reliable set of indicators of anti-semitism for the purpose of better identifying, monitoring, confronting and combating it;

3. To work with scholars of anti-semitism -- and the leading scholarly institutions for the study of anti-semitism;

4. To utilize the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry Into Anti-Semitism in the UK as a model template for other national assemblies to follow;

5. To identify and develop a range of remedies to combat anti-semitism;

6. To organize working groups around the indicators of anti-semitism.

In a declaration issued at its inaugural conference in February 2009, the ICCA proposed many actions involving systematic changes to national, European and international law to incorporate its definition of anti-semitism, including through the education/training of security forces.

This modus operandi of criminalizing discussion of the state of Israel and seeking to outlaw opposition to Israeli Zionist crimes as being allegedly "anti-semitism" and thus a "hate-crime" is exemplified in a 2009 report entitled "Understanding and Addressing the 'Nazi Card' -- Intervening against Antisemitic Discourse," by Paul Igansky and Abe Sweiry. Igansky and Sweiry accuse the entire solidarity front of playing "the Nazi card" when Israel's crimes against the Palestinians are justly identified with the Nazis' atrocities against European Jewry. While the peoples of the world in the spirit of "Never Again" consider the experience of European Jewry under the Nazi Reich to belong to all of humanity, the authors consider it a sacrosanct and singular Jewish event. The authors presume that all "good Europeans" know that any reversion to the Nazi era is not to be tolerated under any circumstances. Thus they assert that anything those who defend the Palestinians say or do is to not to be tolerated, especially if it strays into playing the "Nazi card."

The paper by Igansky and Sweiry was published by the European Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism (EISCA). This institute was established in London in 2007 as the British organizing centre for a "Eurocentric" response to the international solidarity movements in the wake of the failure of the joint EU-U.S.-Israel-led attempt to extinguish Hamas following its unexpected victory over Fateh in the Palestine Legislative Council elections of January 2006.

To get the EISCA off the ground, Oxford academic Stephen Pollard worked closely with British MP Jim Murphy, then Prime Minister Tony Blair's Minister for Europe, arranging for him to deliver a major lecture on the topic of "countering anti-semitism" in the British House of Commons. The EISCA then took up popularizing this theme among a broad elite audience within British government circles.

Thus, the true mission of this Eurocentric "institute" for the subversion of contemporary anti-imperialism is the further preparation of public opinion in the main countries of the Anglo-American bloc to accept draconian measures for criminalizing the movement in support of the Palestinian people as the greatest danger to world peace and security since the Nazi scourges of the Second World War. Indeed their "studies" and "lectures" spew terminology that echoes, and is barely distinguishable from, the rhetoric of Cold War anti-communism at its most rabid. It is no coincidence that within such a framework the reactionary ruling circles in Canada and elsewhere hope to ultimately criminalize communism and support for communism on the basis that it preaches class hatred and thus constitutes a hate crime.

The Zionists' 2006 war on Lebanon.

These attempts to criminalize opposition to Zionism are based on several orders of disinformation. They cover up that not only do many people of the Jewish faith not support Zionism but that they actively oppose it. They also deliberately misconstrue the term anti-semitic to mean anti-Jewish, which overlooks that Arab peoples are semites, nevermind that being Jewish relates to certain cultural and religious practices that are not exclusive to a particular race or ethnicity. Most perniciously, through such false equivalencies, pro-Zionist forces attempt to shield the Israeli state from being accused of war crimes by equating demands for justice with being anti-Jewish and anti-semitic.

Thus, it is a sad irony that the only ones who can be accused of playing the "Nazi card" are the Zionist forces. These are the same forces who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II and today shamelessly besmirch the memory of all those who died in the fight against fascism.

TML denounces the Harper government for its unrelenting support for the Zionists and their crimes and its attempts to criminalize the right to conscience and dissent.

(Illustrations: Carlos Latuff)

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